Malawi New Cabinet Provokes Backlash - It's Nepotistic, Chauvinistic, Without Star Players

(file photo).

As the new Cabinet lineup that will administer state affairs in the Tonse Alliance government assembled by President Lazarus Chakwera in consultation with his vice-president Saulos Chilima is set to be sworn-in, critics have berated the team.

South Africa-based Malawian professor of law, Danwood Chirwa, says, in his cabinet, President Chakwera has reduced the electoral victory to the actions of a few individuals whose main interest is to profit from the State, not through the ordinary remuneration and other trappings ministerial positions offer, but though corruption and looting.

Chirwa made the comment on Thursday; just a day after Chakwera released a 30-member Cabinet.

He began by taking an issue with the restructuring of the government saying it is irrational, with some ministries broken up for no good reason, or having no concrete mandate deserving separate existence, while other important portfolios have been removed or ignored completely.

The law professor added that there's no manifest bona fides rationale for the restructuring, which is linked to better delivery of the alliance manifesto.

"On the contrary it is evident that the structure is meant to accommodate the wide net of patronage networks," he said.

Chirwa also noted that the composition of the cabinet reflects back room deals founded on pay for play, corruption and nepotism.

"Crooks and known looters have been appointed, sending a clear message that all talk about ending corruption and all gimmicks about shutting down the MRA and other institutions to nip looting was window dressing. We have seen this before, Malawians are not that stupid," he said.

He continued that key ministries such as health, education, and foreign affairs need competent professionals to run them; to be sure, a medical doctor, an renowned academic, and a seasoned diplomat respectively; noting that individuals of questionable credentials have been appointed to these portfolios.

"The entire cabinet stinks of incest, and the smell is quite frankly unbearable. Not only has it been set up so that some families loot not just one ministry but two or more ministries," he said.

He also added that the cabinet is embarrassingly male dominated, even as the ministry of gender and children has been abolished.

"If the men, who have been appointed we're exceptional, may be there could be an argument as to merit. But this argument is unavailable because we have some of the known incompetents and crooks on the list. There's no excuse for marginalizing women in this day and age," he noted.

On regionalism, Chirwa said the cabinet lacks regional balance.

"Once more, the northern vote has been used for the hegemonic ambitions of another region. One should have expected a more fair representation from the north given the critic role it played in ushering in this government. It seems all credit has been given to the Vice President, which is altogether misplaced. Apart from the Attorney General, I haven't seen any credible person from the north in this government who can stand up and put pressure to do good. The disproportionately few that are there are mere 'hand clappers', to use somebody's terminology," he noted.

The professor also noted that there are no stars in this cabinet.

"All we have is a collection of recycled politicians, spent forces, looters, privileged and spoilt sons of powerful families and a few unknown new additions," he said.

Another commentators Idriss Alia Nassah said some of the very obvious misfits for the portfolios is the minister of civic education and national unity given to former human rights activist turned politician Timothy Mtambo.

Nassah said the portfolio doesn't make sense.

"Rightly, President Chakwera is facing severe backlash for his timid and uninspiring cabinet and it is because Malawians cannot be fooled by rhetoric. The bar f public service has been set much higher that it has ever been for any president before . And it is good for our country," he said.

A social and political commentator Makhumbo Munthali has described the new Cabinet as a mixed bag that attempts to reconcile the political interests of the Tonse Alliance with the public expectation of new blood and technocrats.

"One can clearly see that some appointments are merely rewarding certain individuals in the Tonse Alliance for the huge role they played in campaigning for Chakwera. But at the same time, the incorporation of new blood such as Mtambo, Gospel Kazako, Vera Kamtukule and others offers some hope," Munthali said.

A quick analysis of the Cabinet composition shows that MCP has 16 members--12 full ministers and four deputies--representing 51.6 percent while UTM Party has contributed six: four ministers and two deputies, representing 19.4 percent.

There are also two independent legislators Madalitso Kambauwa and Nancy Chaola Mdooka.

In a statement issued prior to the appointments, Chakwera said he and vice-president Chilima had a tough time to come up with the Cabinet as there were many capable individuals who could not all be taken on board.

The President then disclosed that others will be given other responsibilities as "the work of draining the swamp, clearing the rubble, overhauling the rotten systems of the state and building new systems cannot be the preserve of Cabinet ministers alone".

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